Scientific Committee Meeting Minutes for October 2011

British Mathematical Colloquium Scientific Committee
Minutes of the meeting of 20 October 2011
DeMorgan House, Russell Square

Charles Goldie (Sussex, Chair), John Hunton (Leicester, LMS), Peter Fleischmann (Kent), James Shank (Kent), David Jordan (Sheffield), Peter Cameron (Queen Mary), Ivan Tomašić (Queen Mary), Mark Haskins (Imperial), Phil Rippon (OU, LMS), Tom Leinster (Glasgow, EdMS), Radha Kessar (Aberdeen, EdMS), Elizabeth Fisher (LMS, standing-in for Fiona Nixon), Thomas Bloom (Bristol, YRM).

  1. Apologies:
    Cathy Hobbs (UWE), Eugenia Cheng (Sheffield), Fiona Nixon (LMS).

  2. Welcome and confirmation of membership:
    Chair: Charles Goldie;
    Secretary: James Shank;
    LMS representatives: John Hunton , Cathy Hobbs , Phil Rippon;
    EdMS representatives: Tom Leinster, Radha Kessar;
    Leicester (2011): John Hunton;
    Kent (2012): Peter Fleischmann, James Shank;
    Sheffield (2013): David Jordan, Eugenia Cheng;
    Queen Mary (2014): Peter Cameron, Ivan Tomašić;
    Elected at the 2011 BMC: Mark Haskins;
    Ex officio: Fiona Nixon, Executive Secretary of the LMS.
    By invitation: Thomas Bloom (Young Researchers in Mathematics).

  3. Minutes of the meeting of 20 April 2011
    These had been circulated and were approved.

  4. Future BMCs

    Queen Mary (2014): Easter is 20 April and the two weeks before that are the most likely date candidates. There is no available on-campus accommodation. Phil Rippon suggested that Robin Wilson could be consulted on relevant anniversaries. Lists of past speakers can be found on the BMC Archive at

    Advice on organising a BMC is available at

    BMC/BAMC (2015): Charles Goldie has been communicating with Martin Hyland. Reorganisation at Cambridge has disrupted planning. John Toland, newly appointed Director of the Newton Institute, has wanted to get a feel for the INI before committing to anything. DAMTP have been positive but are anxious about possible site problems, and about administration and leadership for the event.

    BMC 2016: This point was discussed after item 8. It was agreed that Charles Goldie would approach Bristol in the first instance and, if that proved unsuccessful, place a call for bids.

  5. Report from Leicester (18-21 April 2011):
    The report from Leicester, circulated in advance, was discussed. The meeting attracted 227 registered participants and Roger Penrose's public lecture attracted an audience of approximately 450. Leicester's Vice Chancellor had decided to initiate a promotion of large research conferences. This resulted in a significant reduction in the fees charged by the University and was the primary reason BMC 2011 was able to return over £4300 pounds to the LMS. A clash with teaching terms in Scotland meant that there were few participants from the Scottish universities; this is likely to be a problem as well for BMC 2012. There was less demand for accommodation than expected, leading to significant cancellation charges. This was the first year of the new format mini-workshops. John Hunton thought that the workshops associated to LMS Scheme 3 networks were more successful. Mark Haskins noted that despite a good quality programme, the attendance at the Differential Geometry workshop was disappointing; there was no novelty for the locals and the Colloquium did not attract those from more distant schools. Charles Goldie thought that workshops were, on the whole, a success. Elizabeth Fisher noted that a list of the LMS Scheme 3 networks would be posted to the LMS website and she agreed to circulate the list to Charles Goldie and James Shank. No money was received from EPSRC. The Edinburgh Mathematical Society pledged up to £500 for the support of Scottish mathematicians but this was not used.

  6. Plans for Kent (16-19 April 2012):
    An LMS Scheme 1 grant of £12K has been awarded. The plenary speakers are as announced at the April meeting. Andrew Hodges has agreed in principle to corporate sponsorship of the public lecture. A BLOC (LMS Scheme 3) meeting is scheduled for early afternoon on April 16th. Morning speakers will include Ken Brown (Glasgow), Rachel Camina (Cambridge), Cornelia Drutu (Oxford), Des Evens (Cardiff), Leonid Parnovski (UCL) and Sarah Rees (Newcastle); invitations will be made to David Harel (Weizmann) and Sue Black (UCL, campaign to save Bletchley Park). Subsequent to the meeting, Malwina Luczak (Sheffield) and Sue Black have agreed to be morning speakers. In addition to the workshops announced at the April meeting, there will be a workshop on Number Theory & Algebraic Geometry. Mark Haskins asked which aspects of Turing's work would be covered in the workshop. The Turing workshop is being organised by Simon Thompson, who is Professor of Logic and Computation at the University of Kent and one of Turing's academic grandchildren; Simon will be responsible for the workshop topics. (James Shank: I believe Simon is planning to include logic, artificial intelligence and computational biology.) Charles Goldie suggested liaising with the organisers of the British Colloquium for Theoretical Computer Science. Charles will write to Richard Pinch at GCHQ to thank them for sharing the costs of Solomon Feferman's visit to the UK. Mark Haskins asked about other possible contributions from GCHQ, such as support for Heilbronn fellows to attend the BMC. Mark also asked whether sponsorship from Heilbronn might be possible, perhaps as a recruitment tool for GCHQ postdocs. Phil Rippon noted that a relative of Turing had opened the new Open University Maths building and suggested that family members should be made aware of our Turing events. Mark Haskins suggested liaising with the Marie Curie Network From Mathematical Logic to Applications, Leeds is the UK coordinator. Charles Goldie stressed that national as well as local media should be approached.

  7. Plans for Sheffield (25-28 March 2013):
    An LMS Scheme 1 grant of £12K has been awarded. The public speaker, John Baez, and one plenary speaker, Laurent Saloffe-Coste (Cornell) are confirmed. Invitations have been sent to Michele Vergne, Maxim Kontsevich (both Paris) and Andrew Wiles (Subsequent to the meeting, Wiles emailed to decline.). There are plans to invite Mikhail Kapranov (Yale). The list of reserves is much as in the minutes of April meeting, with the suggested addition of Mike Hopkins (MIT). Sheffield will continue the workshop model. Three of the workshops are linked to LMS Scheme 3 networks: Number Theory, Topology and Algebra/Representation Theory. The other workshops are Functional Analysis, Category Theory and Probability Theory. Workshop budgets typically cover registration fees and some expenses for younger speakers. Accommodation will be in hotels. Blocks of rooms are to be booked about a year in advance. Sheffield are still considering morning speakers; Charles Goldie suggested more analysis. The Faculty of Sciences at Sheffield will cover room charges. Charles noted that the BMC is out of line with most scientific conferences, where commercial rates are often paid.

  8. The BMC and the YRM (Young Researchers in Mathematics):
    There was a wide-ranging discussion of the relationship between the BMC and the YRM. The two conferences provide complementary opportunities for young mathematicians and there is clear scope for cooperation. The YRM provides an attractive environment for young mathematicians to interact with their peers, while the BMC provides access to the broader mathematical community. The YRM attracts around 200 participants with approximately 100 of those participants giving 45 minute talks. The registration fee for the coming year will be £30 and accommodation costs are subsidised. The registration fee for a postgraduate student to attend BMC 2012 will be £45. Subsequent to the meeting, an application has been made to the LMS for money to subsidise the registration fees of postgraduate students and post-doctoral researchers attending both conferences, by £30. At last year's BMC, Oxford University Press sponsored a poster competition; it was suggested that significantly increasing the value of the prize (~£1000?) and advertising at the YRM might attract additional participants. It was suggested that the YRM could be used to publicise the BMC and that the BMC send a representative to the YRM, perhaps one of the BMC 2013 organisers. The YRM might be willing to use their email list to publicise the BMC. Attempting to identify what the BMC can offer to young mathematicians prompted a broader discussion of the role of the BMC. There was strong feeling that the BMC should make an important contribution to maintaining and developing the UK mathematics community.

  9. BMC archives:
    Data from the Minute Book covering 1984 to 2001, discovered recently in Swansea, has now been added to the BMC Archive see the link given above.

  10. No other business was raised.

The AGM at the BMC 2012 will be held on the Tuesday and the next meeting of this committee will be Wednesday 18 April 2012.